E. Blair Leighton

E. Blair Leighton was no relation of Frederick Lord Leighton PRA but the son of another painter, Charles Blair Leighton (1823-1855). He was born in London and studied at the Royal Academy Schools, exhibiting at the RA from 1878. Blair Leighton specialised in romantic medieval scenes, and more modern couples in domestic and outdoor settings. He had an almost photographic style, especially with faces and fabrics, and long beautiful dresses are sometimes the highlights of his pictures. He seems to have been influenced by the genre painter Marcus Stone.

Among Blair Leighton's many scenes showing romantic couples are My Next Door Neighbour (1894), Hopes and Fears (1898), An Offering (1899), On the Threshold (of a proposal) (1900), and its companion Off (after a failed proposal), Vows (1906) - showing a nun and her lover - and similar scenes until at least The Time and the Place (1917).

Among Blair Leighton's historical-religious pictures are his Dying Copernicus (1880), The Charity of St Elizabeth of Hungary (1895), and The Conquest (1884 - at the Higgins Armory Museum, Worcester). Rather good modern genre paintings include Till Death do us Part (1879), with an older man, younger woman and wedding congregation all very unhappy, and A Flaw in the Title on a banking theme. Alain Chartier of 1903 is another successful composition. Less good in historical genre are his Lady Godiva, where he wimps out of anything daring, a tepid Dante and Beatrice, and A King and a Beggar Maid which suffers badly in comparison with Burne-Jones's King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid. For me, Blair Leighton is at his best when showing simple scenes of sympathetic young couples.

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